Photo: Alanna Rizza

Rye gets its first Muslim chaplaincy

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By Alanna Rizza

Amidst recent instances of Islamophobia in the United States and Canada, Muslim students have a new place where they can go to for support and guidance on campus.

After about a year in the works, the Muslim Chaplaincy at Ryerson (MC Ryerson) will be housed in the Ryerson Students’ Union’s (RSU) Wellness Centre, located in the basement of the Student Campus Centre.

The Wellness Centre, which was created to provide students with extra support and mental health resources, is set to open officially mid February.

MC Ryerson will work with the Ryerson Chaplain Association, a comittee of different faiths that collaborate in the Wellness Centre.

Yasin Dwyer, chaplain for MC Ryerson, said he will be providing students with spiritual guidance, education and moral support to handle university life.

“We wish to help build a relationship with university administration and responsibly advocate for the needs of Muslims on campus,” Dwyer wrote via email. “MC Ryerson hopes to provide pastoral care and mentorship for Muslim students and to be available for support when needed.”

Ryerson Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) president Mariam Nouser said, “We were one of the only faiths on campus without a spiritual leader around or on campus.”

“After a year of hard work, we have landed a full-time chaplain that will provide the spiritual and counselling needs of students that the MSA cannot do simply because of expertise.”

MC Ryerson is one of two chapters of the Muslim Chaplaincy of Toronto, which also provides services to the Chaplain at the University of Toronto.

Dwyer added that the chaplaincy will also be a place where students can go to seek help for dealing with tragedies.

On Jan. 27, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order that banned citizens born in seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. On Jan. 29, six people died after a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City. And here at Ryerson on Jan. 20, Ali Yousaf’s RSU election banner was defaced with an Islamophobic message soon after the posters were put up.

“It’s important that a Muslim chaplain is available for mentorship, for counselling, and for dealing with these kinds of tragedies,” Dwyer said.

Fourth-year journalism student Amira Zubairi said the chaplaincy will be a resource that Muslim students need especially if they’re not receiving adequate support from their family or friends.

“I can’t imagine a more important time for Muslim students to have access to a chaplaincy. Many of us, including myself, may be finding it difficult to cope with and fully process the information, news, stories we are consuming so quickly in the last few days.”

Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi put out statements regarding Trump’s executive order and the mosque shooting.

“At times such as this we must stand together in condemnation of hate and terror, and reinforce, in thought and action, our university’s values of inclusion, equity and diversity,” Lachemi’s statement read.

Lachemi also said the university  is assisting any Ryerson community members with travel, study, research or work that has been affected by the travel ban.

“Ryerson will continue to support and welcome people from around the world to our community.”

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